2012 LSM graduate Gemma Lowe received a bursary from Enterprise Inc. at the University of Lincoln to start her own business as an audio specialist and voice-over artist. Her story coincides with the 10th anniversary of Sparkhouse, with its Open Days this week. Gemma’s in no doubt that the help she got was “crucial” to setting up on her own, and she can now reflect on the experience.
It’s great being my own boss and it really keeps me motivated, but being self‐employed hasn’t exactly been what I had expected (find out why below)! I am a voice-over artist with a passion for audio recording and production. I have experience in radio presenting and people regularly told me that I have a ‘voice for radio’, so this really got me thinking what else I could use my voice for. Gemma’s Q & A session.
How did you come up with your business idea? One day I remember watching the television and wondering whose voice was presenting the adverts – something that is usually taken for granted, I just thought ‘I could do that!’ My business involves recording and fully producing audio voice‐over tracks for a variety of industries, my recent projects have included health and safety videos, narration for short films, radio jingles and training videos. I offer the final piece of audio and hand over the copyright for the final piece so that the businesses can use it for future productions.
How has Enterprise Inc. helped you? The Enterprise Inc. scheme has been crucial in helping me to set up as a business and has taught me everything I needed to start up on my own; although I had the experience and skills needed to create the audio projects. Enterprise Inc. made sure that I knew the essential information about things like tax, national insurance and book‐keeping as well as giving me the tools to improve my business, such as networking skills and marketing techniques. The bursary provided by the Enterprise Inc. scheme has enabled me to buy the equipment that is crucial to my business – I have now got good quality headphones a microphone and editing equipment that I could never have afforded without it. It has also allowed me to get a professional website and business cards. I have been able to attend networking sessions to promote my products to other businesses too.
What was your first breakthrough? I think my first breakthrough with my business was producing a piece of audio, then editing it and seeing the final product being used as part of a corporate training video for a globally successful business. It was extremely rewarding and great to see that the hard work was beginning to pay off!
Has being self-employed been what you expected? Being self‐employed hasn’t exactly been what I had expected; it requires dedication to your business idea and it has shown me that you get out what you put in. If you are willing to put in the effort to promote your business and network with the right people and take on‐board the information that Enterprise Inc. provides then you get to see the rewards as your business finds its feet.
What is the best aspect of your job? The best aspect of working for myself is that I get to decide when to work and can fit it in around my life; I often find that I can edit audio better in the evenings when there are less distractions (it takes lots of concentration!) and being self‐employed means that I can do it whenever I like. It is great being my own boss and it really keeps me motivated knowing that it is up to me to make the business work.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? When I had bought my audio equipment and set up as a business, I had a horrible realisation that I needed to pinpoint where to find my customers. Many businesses can advertise but voice‐over recordings are not something that people see an advert for and think: ‘Oh, I could do with one of those!’ people who require voice‐overs usually go directly to the internet and just search for a voice‐over artist. I set to work in improving my website and optimising my mark on search engines. I decided to focus my efforts on providing voice‐overs for corporate training as it is financially rewarding and there are many large companies that need voice‐overs regularly. It is my goal to build up a client list of large companies and regularly provide my products to them to build a good reputation within my area of expertise. I am careful not to cut out other areas of the market though, variety is great and I will face whatever requests are made.
If you could give Students or Graduates thinking about starting their own business a piece of advice, what would it be? I would say, really get to know who your target markets are and think about why they should choose you over any other providers of similar products or services. If you get this right then you are on the path to success.
See my website and do contact me if you wish!
If you’d like to discuss anything business related, from your ideas to funding, contact Lauren Baillie, either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01522 837823.